VILLA FOR SALE
Juliette wishes to sell her villa but is reallydisappointed that no prospective customers walked thatway. The sign ‘For Sale’ has been there since a monthbut the villa appeared not to interest anyone. Juliette
confesses to her maid that she was so fed up that shewould do anything to get the wretched place off her hands.She starts doubting whether it was sensible to ask for twohundred thousand francs. The villa was located nearFrench Hollywood and was in reasonable condition butno one seemed interested to buy it. Meanwhile the maidrequests Juliette to give her an off since she had beenoffered the role of a maid in a movie. Juliette is surprisedto discover that the maid was going to earn a hundredfrancs just for a day’s work. The maid surprises Julietteby suggesting that even she could act as a cook and earnquite a bit of money. Juliette is amazed to know that theentire locality was busy taking up one role or the other
in movies.As Juliette retires for relaxation, two customers,Jeanne and Gaston are ushered in by the maid. They area young couple. From their conversation, it is evidentthat the wife Jeanne is more eager to buy the villa. Shewants to buy it for her parents and her sister’s family.Gaston is very business-minded, very shrewd and he isleast interested in making any investment for his wife’sfamily. Meanwhile Juliette makes an appearance. Shepretends to be very proud of her villa and single-handedlyannounces that the villa perfectly suited the personalityof the customers. She flatters the young couple, callsthem ‘exceptional’ that the villa was according to theirtaste. Juliette hikes up the price and then brings it down
to two hundred thousand francs and pretends to do afavour to the couple. Gaston is totally irritated by nowand makes it very clear that he has no intention ofpurchasing the villa. As they are leaving, Jeanne expressesa desire to see the upper floor. Both Juliette and Jeannego upstairs.Gaston is busy cribbing when the maid ushers inanother customer, Mrs Al Smith. Mrs Al Smith mistakesGaston to be the owner of the villa and expresses herdesire to buy the villa. Initially Gaston just wiles awaythe conversation but his business-instincts are arousedwhen he discovers that Mrs Al Smith is really interested in buying the villa. Mrs Al Smith was an actress. Shewanted to buy this villa to make a new house nearHollywood. She has loads of money but has no time toinspect the house or go in details. Gaston quotes threehundred thousand and to his utmost surprise the ladyhands him the cheque and makes a quick departure. Inthe meantime Jeanne and Juliette come back. Jeanne isastounded to discover that within a short while Gaston
has changed his mind. He gives a cheque of two hundredthousand to Juliette and walks out, smiling to himself,with his wife. The transaction had been quite worthwhile,chuckled Gaston to himself.
SHORT ANSWER QUESTIONS
- Why is Juliette fed up of the house? What wasthe reaction of the people when the villa was put up forsale?
Ans. When Juliette put up the ‘Villa for Sale’ sign, shehad thought that the next day the entire world would befighting to purchase it. But it so happened that nobodyturned up to buy it. It has already been one month sinceshe put up the sign for sale. In the past two weeks, therewere four people who wanted to buy it but did not. Juliettewas also fed up because after putting up the sign, she feltas if the villa did not belong to her. The neighbours lookedat her in such a strange way that she began to think thatthey were mocking at her and that the whole thing wasgoing to lead to a great disappointment.
- “They say maids are born; maids not mademaids.” Explain the context of the above statement.
Ans. This line is spoken by Juliette’s maid. She has gota role to play in a film at the Joinville Studio. She has gotthe role of a maid. While telling Juliette about her role, shetells her that the film-makers prefer people from the sameprofession as the role assigned to them. She says that maids
are born as they are; nobody can pretend to be one. Sheimplies that only a maid will be able to most successfullyplay the role of a maid in a film, so she is most suitable forit.
- How was the French Hollywood proving to be agreat attraction for the people?
Ans. Everybody around the French Hollywood wasvying for a role in the films because of the huge financialbenefit. Everybody looked up to getting just any role theycould manage. People gave up their jobs temporarily to actin the films. Whether it was the butcher who didn’t openhis shop, or the policemen who were missing from theirduty, shooting a fight scene — all were doing some or theother role; nobody thought about anything else round there the manager was offering a thousand francs for a real beggarwho had nothing to eat for two days. The films were paying
everybody so well that they were bound to be attractedtowards them.
- What advantages of the villa are presented byJuliette?
Ans. Juliette describes the villa as ‘a most delightfulplace.’ She says that although it appears modest but it hasa charm of its own. She says that the house possesses agreat many advantages — electricity, gas, water, telephone,and drainage. She also says that the bathroom is beautifully
fitted and the roof was entirely repaired the previous yearonly. She says that she is ready to sell it with all the furnitureand fixtures, except the little picture signed by Carot.
- Why does Juliette find both Gaston and Jeanneto be perfectly suited to buy the villa?
Ans. Juliette had put up a ‘Villa for Sale’ sign a monthago, and there had not been much response from thecustomers. She was fed up of waiting for the buyers. Nowwhen Gaston and Jeanne came as customers, and when shesaw so much of eagerness on Jeanne’s part to buy the villa,
she felt that they were perfectly suited to buy it. She couldclearly see that Jeanne was highly impressed and so triedto flatter her so that the deal could be finalised.
- Why is Gaston not tempted to buy the villa evenafter Juliette decreases the rate?
Ans. Gaston was not ready to buy the villa even afterJuliette had decreased the rate because he did not comewith the intention of buying it. In the conversation betweenhimself and Jeanne, when they were waiting for Juliette inthe villa, he had told Jeanne clearly, “I told you before wecrossed the road that I didn’t want it.” The reason he gavefor his disinterest in it was that he knew very well that thevilla would be used by Jeanne’s parents and her sister’schildren throughout the year. There was no use investing init when they (Jeanne and Gaston) would be staying there only for one month.
- What is the case of mistaken identity betweenMrs. Al Smith and Gaston?
Ans. When the maid brings Mrs. Al Smith inside thehouse, only Gaston is there. After this, the maid goes out.There was no introduction between Gaston andMrs. Al Smith. She was in such a hurry that she took Gastonas the owner of the house. Since money was not an issueor anything else, she talked with Gaston without a break —all she wanted was to finalise the deal assuming Gaston tobe the owner of the house, she gave him a cheque of threehundred thousand francs demanded by him. Gaston hadunderstood Mrs. Smith’s ‘mistaken identity’ and cleverlyremained quiet about it and made one hundred thousandfrancs in the deal with her.
- Why does Gaston insist on taking the picture asa souvenir?
Ans. The picture on the wall of the villa was a preciousone as it was signed by Carot — a well-known painter, andthus had a lot of value. Gaston has already made a lot ofmoney in the deal he had with Mrs. Smith. Now, he knowsthat Mrs. Smith was going to get the whole house knocked
down which will destroy this painting also. He wanted tobe a proud owner of it, and maybe, decided to make a lotof money by selling it as it was an antique painting.
- In the play “Villa for sale,” who do you think isa better businessman and why?
Ans. In the play, Gaston is a better businessman thanJuliette. Juliette has no idea about real estate. She lacksthe business acumen to take advantage of the fact that hervilla was near French Hollywood. But Gaston was ashrewd businessman. He poses himself to be the owner ofthe villa to the American actor and makes a deal of thirtythousand francs. He pays Juliette twenty thousand francsfor the villa and makes a net profit of one thousand francs.
- Why is Gaston not interested in buying the villain the beginning?
Ans. In the beginning, Gaston was not interested in buyingthe villa because he knew very well that the villa would beused by Jeanne’s parents and her sister’s childrenthroughout the year. He considered it useless in investingin it when he and Jeanne would be staying there for onemonth only. But in the end when he got a chance to earnone thousand francs, he at once bought the villa.
- What was the suggestion given by maid toJuliette to end her financial hard up?
Ans. In order to meet her financial hard up, Juliettewanted to sell her villa but was unable to get anyprospective buyer. Her maid was greatly concerned withher crisis. She suggested Juliette that she should take upthe role of a cook in the movie that way she would be ableto earn one hundred francs a day.
- Why did Ms. Al Smith want to buy the Villa?
Ans. Al Smith was a big American actress. Moneywas not an issue for her in possessing the villa. Neither shewas interested in knowing about its features. Even afterbuying the villa she wanted to knock it down and build abungalow so that she was near French Hollywood areawhere she was supposed to shoot for a film.
- What are Jeanne and Gaston arguing aboutbefore Juliette enters the room?
Ans. There is no uniformity between Jeanne andGaston in the decision of buying the villa because Gastonis not ready to support Jeanne’s idea of buying the villa atany cost. He has come to see it with Jeanne just becauseshe had persuaded him to see it. The reason he gives fornot being interested in buying the villa is that Jeanne didn’twant it for herself and Gaston, but for her parents. Gastonwas not fond of Jeanne’s parents and said that her parentswould stay in the villa from April to September every year,whereas they themselves would be staying there only forone month. Moreover, he also knew that Jeanne’s parentswould also bring along the ‘whole tribe’ of her sister’schildren to stay there.
LONG ANSWER QUESTIONS
- Give a character sketch of Juliette.
Ans. Juliette seems to be a fickle-minded person. Shegets a strange feeling that since nobody was coming to buythe house, even after one month of advertising it, she wasa real fool to have bought it. She is also an opportunist.She was ready to sell it for a sum of hundred thousand francs but when she got the customers in Gaston andJeanne, she quoted its price to two hundred thousand fiftyfrancs. She particularly wanted to take advantage ofJeanne’s liking of the house. Her fickle-mindedness is alsoevident from the way she got irritated at Gaston’s remarksand said that she didn’t want to sell the house, but the nextmoment, when she saw that Gaston was ready to get upand go, she began speaking in a pleading manner.
- Discuss the character traits of Mrs. Al Smith.What is her significance in the context of the lesson?
Ans : Mrs. Al Smith is a rich, busy woman who isproud of being an American. She seems to have a
superiority complex for the American race as compared tothe Europeans. Throughout her very brisk, shortconversation that she had with Gaston, number of times,she mentioned about the superior ways of thinking andworking of the Americans, so much so that she suggestedthat Europeans must copy the Americans more often. So,her conversation was a racially inclined one. Secondly, sheseems to be very rich as she simply wanted Gaston toquote the price of the house; she had no hesitation inpaying anything!There is a lot of significance of her role in the lesson.
The way Gaston made a fortune for himself through herwithin no time, has given a turning twist to the lesson andhas made it extremely interesting. Mrs. Smith’s entry intothe scene suddenly changed the direction of the story andadded wonder and humour in it.
- What were the attempts made by Juliette to sellthe villa?
Ans : To sell the villa, Juliette, first of all, put up asignboard outside her house. She feels quite tensed whenshe doesn’t get any customers. Finally, when Gaston andJeanne turn up, she tries every possible way to have thedeal finalised. She tries all her tactics — flattery, bargain,pressure — and is finally successful in selling the house,without realising even a little bit as to what had happenedbehind the scene between Gaston and Mrs. Al Smith. Shetells Jeanne about all the facilities being provided alongwith the house, i.e. electricity, gas, water, telephone,drainage as well as all the fixtures. She even tries topsychologically impress Jeanne by saying that even beforebuying the house, she seems to be already belonging to it.
- Why is Gaston not interested in buying thevilla? How does he convince his wife – first in backingout of the deal and later in sealing the deal?
Ans. Gaston is not interested in buying the villabecause he knows that most of the year, the villa would beused by Jeanne’s parents and her sister’s children, and theythemselves would be staying there only for a month. He isnot very fond of his wife’s family and doesn’t wish tomake any investments there. He tells his wife that in noway he is interested in buying the house. He argues withhis wife that he was never interested in even talking aboutthe house. He even talks in a very dry manner with Julietteto discourage any deal between her and Jeanne.
After Gaston has made his profit of one thousandfrancs, his stance regarding the villa changes completely.Jeanne is shocked at this, but he convinces her that now hehas changed his mind and wants to buy the villa to pleaseher, that he has no problem even if her parents stayedthere, and that the villa would be useful for them also intheir old age.
- Who is better in business – Juliette or Gaston?Why?
Ans : For doing business, one has to be business-minded.Whenit is a game of profits, investments, losses,onehas to be hard-core, unscrupulous and manipulative.Qualitieslike human considerations, honesty go for a toss.Whatwins the day is foresight, opportunism and the ability
tooutsmart others. Thatis where Gaston scores overJuliette.Juliette wishes to sell the villa to cut her losses,whereasit is Gaston who walks away with the chunk ofprofitwith his shrewdness.Juliette has no idea about real estate. She cursesherself for spending so much money to buy it. When shewishes to sell it, hardly any customers turn up. To get herdue, Juliette tries her best to bargain, to hard sell thehouse. She presents the villa in such a positive light andpsychologically blackmails the couple into buying thehouse. She uses all the business tactics – flattery, bargain,
pressure etc. Juliette lacks the business acumen to takeadvantage of the fact that her villa was near FrenchHollywood.It is also sheer luck that Gaston is there to reap theharvest, which others have sown. When Mrs Al Smithshows interest, Gaston leads her on, never contradicting,and lets the case of mistaken identity go on. He is quick,decisive, smart and seals the deal with Mrs. Al Smith,before the real owner appears. He takes three hundredthousand francs from Mrs. Al Smith, gives two hundredthousand to Juliette and walks away with a neat profit ofone hundred thousand. He has pleased his wife in thebargain, along with Juliette. The villa that was a losingproposition now becomes most lucrative along with theantique painting, the value of which was not known toanyone.
- Gaston, being a keen observer, made mentalnotes about Mrs. Al Smith, her behaviour and heropinions. Describe Mrs. Al Smith and your meetingwith her to your business partner in a letter, telling himabout the profitable deal that you made.
Ans. Dear TimI had been thinking of writing to you for a long time,but was just busy with my routine work. There issomething very interesting that I want to tell you. You willbe amazed to know that I have made one hundred thousandfrancs without putting in any efforts or investments at all!
It so happened that I went with my wife to see a villawhich was for sale. When my wife went with the owner tosee the first floor, I stayed back. Can you guess whathappened then? A lady called Al Smith came to buy thehouse, and mistaking me to be the owner of the house,struck a deal with me. She was in a great hurry and didn’teven want to know anything about the house. She is fromfilms and very rich. The owner, Juliette had cited its priceto us as two hundred thousand francs. I told Mrs. Smiththat I would sell it to her for three hundred thousandfrancs. She agreed and then and there gave me a cheque.Can you imagine I made a clear profit of one hundredthousand francs in just five minutes as I bought the housefrom Juliette for two hundred thousand francs. I’m myselfamazed at my smartness and my happiness knows nobounds.
See you then. Do reply soon.YoursGaston
- Juliette’s maid is witness to the activities thattake place in the Villa that day. She is in dilemmawhether to tell Juliette how Gaston sold the Villa beforebuying it or to keep quiet about it as the money hasbeen paid. She writes a page in her diary expressing herfeelings. Write her diary.
Ans. Dear Diary,I am greatly depressed. I really want to pour out myfeelings to someone. I am in a dilemma whether to tellJuliette how Gaston sold the villa before buying it or keepquiet as money has been paid and the deal has been finalised. Both ways Juliette will be greatly hurt and I donot want that. But at the same time I do not want to keepher in the dark as I love her so much. If she comes to knowof the same from somebody else, and that I knew the facts,she would start hating me and I do not want to earn herhatred and mistrust. I am feeling disgusted with Gastonwho had befooled Juliette by playing a trick upon her. HadI known his intentions earlier I would never had let him doso. Oh God! please show me the way.
- Jeanne is unable to understand Gaston’s reasonfor buying the Villa after objecting so much; she comeshome and quickly writes a letter to her mother sharingher anxiety, jubilation and relief at the purchase. Writeher letter.
Ans. Dear mother,I am so happy today that I am unable to contain myhappiness. Now listen with your fingers crossed, Gastonhas bought the villa I wanted to buy for you and papa. Itwas not easy for me to persuade him because he wasreluctant to invest his life’s savings just to buy a villawhere we could live for one month only in a year. Butmother when I told him that you, papa and Julia’s childrenwill live in the Villa throughout the year since you want ahouse to live in, he readily agreed. Mummy, guess! Howdearly Gaston loves you all. I am also very happy for youpeople. Now you don’t have to spend the fag end of yourlife in that dilapidated house. You can shift in the Villa assoon as we get the possession and get the renovation done.Tell Papa also that I love him.